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Bethlehem planning board scrutinizes highway housing

One concern brought up in previous meetings was the "single point of access," which ca be an issue for emergency crews, but Morelli said he didn't believe a "big boulevard entrance" was necessary. There was also a discussion on the number of garages and sidewalks associated with the project.

Board member John Smolinsky said the discussion on possible air pollution comes in part because part of the requirements of a PDD is that the project meets a town code that states the site is reasonably free of "objectionable conditions" such as odors, noise, dust, air pollution, incompatible land uses and other environmental constraints.

"As with many development projects, The Legends project has many positive points, most notably, it will fill a niche in the Bethlehem housing market for modest-priced housing, but every project also has impacts or raises questions," said Smolinsky. "In the case of this project, it has been very beneficial to have dialog about many of the important issues like those above, as well school tax impacts, sidewalks, emergency access and others, before the project proceeds to a more detailed design stage."

He concluded, "If the project proceeds, it will have benefited by the board's discussions, as well as from the ongoing input from the town's planning staff."

Smolinsky said he would like to see some general information regarding the impact of tailpipe emissions and fine particulates that can cause health problems.

"It was my understanding that the developer will continue to research the topic and report back to the planning board," he said.

Smolinsky agreed with Morelli's assessment that lengthy board discussions "often raise good questions" and help developers understand what needs to be addressed before approval.

Morelli said more information would be helpful from the developer, but that developments and housing unit along highways are nothing new. He added that there is about 200 feet of land between the proposed development and the Thruway that can be landscaped or a berm built.

"Certainly, on one hand, you have the fact you're along a highway on the other hand you look along the Thruway and Northway and there's a ton of residences," Morelli said. "You have to look at the difference between emissions of vehicles driving by at 70 mile per hour and emission of cars idling at red lights in a suburban setting."

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